A Lincolnshire GP said surgeries in the county are “swamped” and called for patients to take better care of themselves in order to ease the workload.
Dr Keiran Sharrock, who is also medical director at Lincolnshire Local Medical Committee, said demand on services has increased.
He added that GPs were seeing “huge demand” and that some were taking early retirement.
Latest figures from NHS Digital show that the number of full-time GPs across the country has hardly changed since 2015.
The government set a target of 5,000 more full-time equivalents by 2020, but there were just 272 more between 2015 and 2018.
Dr Sharrock said patients need to look after themselves better in order to ease the workload on GPs and the health service as a whole..
“The problem we have is that we have an ageing population, more people with long term conditions and people at a younger age who are not looking after themselves becoming more unwell with long term conditions,” he said.
“That creates a huge demand on the GP services. But you also have a population of patients who are generally well but when they become unwell they feel they need to get their treatment or advice straight away.”
He added that self-care is “often enough” for most people, rather than seeing their GP or a health professional.
Meanwhile, the amount of GPs retiring early across the country has increased.
Dr Sharrock said there is “widespread knowledge” that more GPs need to be trained in order to increase the number of practitioners.
“Every government and every party has said the exact same thing in the recent election that we need to increase the GP training places,” he said.
“We need to train more people to be doctors, we need to train more people to be GPs and we need to train more nurses and get more nurses into general practice.
“But once again, I’ll say if patients looked after themselves, exercised, stopped smoking, ate the right food, they wouldn’t become unwell and we wouldn’t have the burden on the NHS as a whole that we have now.”
The workload on GPs led to doctors supporting a motion to reduce home visits at a meeting of local medical committees last month.
It means British Medical Association representatives will lobby NHS England to stop home visits being a contractual obligation.
But, Dr Sharrock said he spoke against the motion and described home visits as “vital”.
He added that visits to patients’ homes should only be for “clinical need”.
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